LIONEL PODCAST: Ron Burgundy?! No. Ted Baxter.

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This picture absolutely says it all. This is what the mainstream media are today. But more importantly, before there was a Ron Burgundy there was Ted Baxter.

Ted Baxter was the precursor to today’s over-hyped, pompous, Botoxed and sutured, collagen-blasted pretty boy or gal who use the notion of news as a pretext for face time on the tube. How prescient and vatic Ted’s creators were to augur the future. This, mind you, was at a time where Cronkite reigned. Where Murrow’s Boys made up news rosters. Venerable and venerated, these men (mostly) commanded respect. ‘Twas the day before Fox and MSDNC. When these men were actual, bona fide reporters who’d eye-witnessed the horrors of WWII. Then came Ted.

Ted Baxter presaged the Savannah Guthries and Ann Currys and Bill O’Reillys. Folks hadn’t made the connection or established the meme of a Ted Baxter, a churl of unwarranted respectability. And remember, The Mary Tyler Moore Show debuted in 1970, 11 years prior to Cronkite’s retirement. That took elephantine balls.

Wikipedia notes that Ted Baxter “is a broad parody of a vain, shallow, buffoonish TV newsman. Knight’s comedic model was William Powell, and he also drew on various Los Angeles newscasters, including George Putnam (newsman), in helping shape the character. Ted Baxter has become a symbolic figure, and is often used when criticizing media figures, particularly news anchors hired for style and appearance rather than journalistic ability.” [e.s.]

No, sorry, Will Ferrell fans, Ron Burgundy is no Ted Baxter.

The podcast. I don’t hold back in this installment. (Surprise!) I’ve reduced my thoughts as to broadcast journalism into a succinct presentation that some colleagues might find offensive. But remember, you only take flak when you’re over the target.

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